Rolex is the new champion in the auction house, certifying the watch company’s legendary position as the creator of the highest quality wristwatches. On April 23, 2008, an ultra-rare 1971 “Albino” Rolex Daytona, formerly owned by rock n’ roll legend Eric Clapton, sold at Sotheby’s “Important Watches Auction” for $505,000 including buyer’s premium. Although it was expected to fetch $100,000-$150,000 by watch experts, the Rolex Daytona broke all records when it sold for over half million dollars once the dust had settled.
Created by Rolex in 1971, the watch is nicknamed the “Albino” Daytona because the background and subsidiary dials are a monochrome silver color, in stark contrast to the normally contrasting dials of more common Rolex Daytonas. It was a design that was not too popular, as the contrasting outlined sub-dials make for better visibility. If you look at the Rolex Daytona models today, they have no “Albino’s”. Basically, the watch was an unpopular variant of a popular model. Before the auction, the Rolex Daytona was not even expected to be in the top three of most expensive watches sold on that day. At this auction, the 6th most expensive watch sold was a “James Bond” Rolex Submariner from 1959, which brought in $211,000. The 2nd through 5th most expensive watches sold at this auction belonged to Pate Philippe and ranged from $217,000 to $445,000. At the Antiquorum’s recent $8.5 million Rolex auction, the top-priced timepiece sold for $248,000.For years, Eric Clapton has been recognized as a major Rolex watch collector. The guitar legend’s personal collection is quite extensive, and Clapton even named his record collection of greatest hits, Timepieces. Still, nothing in Clapton’s collection compares in price to the 1971 Rolex “Albino” Daytona, which will now go down in history as the Rolex that shocked the refined world of high-priced auction.